In a heartfelt announcement, the world says goodbye to Rick Dalton, the legendary fictional protagonist from “Bounty Law” and “The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey”. At 90, Dalton departed this life serenely at his Hawaiian residence. Quentin Tarantino took to the official Twitter page of his Video Archives Podcast, a project he shares with director-producer Roger Avary, to confirm the saddening news. Many will recall Leonardo DiCaprio’s poignant portrayal of Dalton in 2019’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, offering a raw glimpse into the actor’s challenging times in the late 1960s – including his memorable stint on “Lancer” and his unsettling face-off with a band of home-invading hippies. Tarantino expanded Dalton’s narrative in the 2021 novelization of the same movie title, and fans are eagerly awaiting the forthcoming book, “The Films of Rick Dalton”. As a tribute, Tarantino and Avary plan to release a special podcast episode commemorating the iconic Rick Dalton next week.
Rick Dalton: A Retrospective Look at Hollywood’s Versatile Star
Born in 1933, Rick Dalton rose to prominence with his celebrated role as the gun-slinging Jake Cahill on the TV western classic, “Bounty Law”, which aired from 1959 to 1963. Eager to broaden his horizons, Dalton ventured into films, making notable appearances in westerns like “Hellfire, Texas”, and “Tanner”. He also earned acclaim for his standout performance in the WWII action epic, “The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey”.
Many film enthusiasts still talk about Dalton’s near-miss with fame when he was considered for the role of Virgil Hilts in “The Great Escape”, a part that was eventually clinched by another TV western icon, Steve McQueen.
Despite his earlier successes, post-“Bounty Law” saw a dip in Dalton’s career. He struggled to secure lead roles and was frequently seen making guest appearances on popular TV series of the era, such as “Tarzan”, “The FBI” and “Lancer”.
In search of fresh opportunities, Dalton, heeding the counsel of producer Marvin Schwarz, made his way to Europe. This move reinvigorated his career as he headlined several hit films, including spaghetti westerns like “Kill Me Quick, Ringo, Said the Gringo” and “Nebraska Jim”. He also delved into the comedy genre with “Operazione Dyn-O-Mite!” It was during this European chapter that Dalton’s life took a romantic turn, leading to his marriage with the Italian screen sensation, Francesca Capucci.
Upon his return to the states, Hollywood was abuzz with one of its most bizarre episodes. In a chilling turn of events, Dalton’s Hollywood residence became the target of an invasion by Charles Manson’s followers. However, the intruders met their match in Dalton, his trusty friend and stuntman Cliff Booth, Booth’s loyal dog Brandy, and a memorable flamethrower prop from “The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey”.
In a cinematic sensation out of Hollywood, the star-studded ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dalton, Brad Pitt in the role of Booth, and Margot Robbie portraying actress Sharon Tate, has not only raked in an impressive $370 million at the global box office but also secured a whopping ten nods at the Academy Awards. While Pitt clinched the title for Best Supporting Actor with his charismatic portrayal of Booth, DiCaprio saw a nomination in the Best Actor category. However, not without its share of controversies, the film has faced critique over its portrayal of an alleged altercation between Booth and the legendary Bruce Lee, who, during that era, was lighting up the screens with “The Green Hornet”.